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Cell disruption is the process of obtaining intracellular fluid via methods that
open the cell wall.
The overall goal in cell disruption is to obtain the intracellular fluid without
disrupting any of its components
The method used may vary depending on the type of cell and its cell wall
Irrespective of the method used, the main aim is that the disruption must be
effective and the method should not be too harsh so that the product recovered
remains in its active form.
There are two types of cell disruption method which are
Non Mechanical methods
The method selected for large scale cell disruption will be different in
every case, but will depend on:
Susceptibility of cells to disruption
Ease of extraction from cell debris
Speed of method
Cost of method
Mechanical methods are those methods which required some sort of force to
separate out intracellular protein without adding chemical or enzyme
The main principle of the mechanical disruption methods is that the cells are
being subjected to high stress via pressure, abrasion with rapid agitation with
beads, or ultrasound.
Intensive cooling of the suspension after the treatment is required in order to
remove the heat that was generated by the dissipation of the mechanical
laboratory scale - high-pressure methods such as French press and
Industrial - the bead mill and high-pressure homogenizer
1. Bead mill
3. French press and high pressure homogeniser
The main principle requires a jacketed grinding
chamber with a rotating shaft, running in its
Agitators are fitted with the shaft, and provide
kinetic energy to the small beads that are present
in the chamber.
That makes the beads collide with each other.
The choice of bead size and weight is greatly
The increased number of beads increases the degree of disruption, due to the
increased bead-to-bead interaction.
The increased number of beads, however, also affects the heating and power
Glass, alumina, titanium carbide, zirconium oxide, zirconium silicate.
Glass beads with a diameter greater than 0.5 mm - yeast cells
diameter lesser than 0.5 mm - bacterial cells.
The process variables are:
agitator speed, proportion of the beads, beads size, cell suspension
concentration, cell suspension flow rate, and agitator disc design.
Main issues related to bead mills are,
the high temperature rises with increase of bead volume,
high chance of contamination.
k is a function of
Rate of agitation (1500- 2250 rpm)
Cell concentration (30- 60% wet solids)
Bead diameter (0.2 -1.0 mm)
Ultrasonic disruption is caused by ultrasonic vibrators that produce a high
frequency sound with a wave density of about 20 kHz/s
A transducer then converts the waves into mechanical oscillations through
a titanium probe, which is immersed into the cell suspension.
used for both bacterial and fungal cell disruption.
Bacterial cell - 30 to 60 sec, and yeast - 2 and 10min.
disadvantage: It’s very loud and has to be performed in an extra room
• Highly effective at lab scale (15-300W)
• Poor at large scales
• High energy requirements
• Safety issues - noise
• Heat transfer problems
• Not continuous
• Protein lability
The cell suspension is drawn through a valve into a pump cylinder.
Then it is forced under pressure of up to 1500 bar, through a narrow
annular gap and discharge valve, where the pressure drops to
Cell disruption is achieved due to the sudden drop in pressure upon the
discharge, causing the cells to explode.
This method is one of the most widely known and used methods.
It is mostly used for yeast cells.
protein release is dependent on several factors:
intracellular location of the enzymes
number of passes
It consists of
High pressure positive displacement pump
Discharge valve with a restricted orifice
Cell suspension pumped through homogenizing valve at 200-1000 atm
(depends on type of microorganism and concentration of cell
cell suspension is cooled as it exit the valve to reduce thermal
denaturation of the product.
By various stresses developed on the cell suspension
Stress is developed due to the impingement of high velocity jet of
suspended cells on the stationary surface (impact ring)
The stress is expressed as dynamic pressure Ps - depends on jet
velocity v, and fluid density ρ,
Ps = ½ ρv2
Normal and shear stresses are also generated
Normal stress – due to the fluid pass through the narrow channel of
Shear stress – rapid decrease in pressure due to cell suspension
passes out of the orifice.
Parameters which influence degree of cell disruption
Nature of microorganism – size, cell wall composition, thickness
and concentration of microbial cell
Product location within the cell
Type of homogenizer –type of valve and seat
Noof passes of cell suspension through the homogenizer
Cell disruption described by, first order kinetics
N – noof passes through valve
k – first order rate constant depends on operating pressure
P- operatting pressure
n – constant , varying with pressure, with pressure
Non mechanical methods are further divided into three class
which are following
1. Heat shock/ Thermolysis
2. Osmatic shock
common in large scale production, easy, economical
Used if the products are stable to heat shock
It inactivates organism by disrupting the cell wall without affecting the
The effect of heat shock depends on parameters such as
pH ionic strength presence of chelating agents like EDTA
which binds Mg presence of proteolytic and hydrolytic enzymes.
Periplasmic proteins in G (-) bacteria are released when the cells are heated
up to 50ºC.
Cytoplasmic proteins can be released from E.coli within 10min at 90 ºC.
Improved protein release has been obtained after short high temperature
shocks, than when at longer temperature exposures at lower values.
The results are highly unreliable, as the protein solubility changes with
Caused by sudden change in salt concentration
Provided by dumping a given volume of cell into double volume of
The cells swell due to osmotic flow of water and then burst
Release the product into surrounding medium
Osmotic pressure, π, proportional to concentration of solutes and
temperature, as given by van’t Hoff equation
Susceptibility of cells to undergo disruption by osmotic shock
depends on types of cells
Red blood cells easily disrupted
Animal cells after mincing or homogenizing the tissues
Plant cells most resistant
This technique is used if the product is in periplasmic region
Cheap and effective method but harsh
Alkali acts on the cellwall – saponification of lipids
pH 11-12, 20 -30 min
Proteases are inactivated by this method – it is used in the preparation of
pyrogen free therapeutic enzymes
Addition of concentrated solution of detergent to about half the volume
of cell suspension
Depends on pH and temperature
Detergents are capable of interacting both water and lipids
Detergent solubilize the lipids in the cellwall and form a micelle
In dilute solution detergents donot dissolve but in high concentration
lipid solubilization begins suddenly and thereafter increases linearly with
The range of detergent concentration at which the abrupt changes in
lipid solubility and surface tension of the medium occur is called
critical micelle concentration and corresponds to the formation of
Anionic detergents – SDS, sodium sulphonate
Cationic detergents – CTAB
Non ionic detergent – triton X-100
Cell wall permeabilization
Addition of organic solvents
Solvent is absorbed by cell wall resulting in swelling and ultimate rupture
Lower concentration – permeabilize the cell wall
This method is usefull in retaining the components of the cell for
sequencial release of the desired product and use permeabilized cell as a
Toluene, benzene, xylenes, octanol
to use digestive enzymes which will decompose the microbial cell
lysozyme is commonly used enzyme to digest cell wall of gram
Lysozyme hydrolyzes β-1-4-glucosidic bonds in the peptidoglycan.
The cell wall of gram negative bacteria differs from the cell wall of
gram positive bacteria so lysozyme is not very efficient in the case
of gram negative cell wall.